Kokontozai: KASHIYUKA’s Shop of Japanese Arts and Crafts / [BAMBOO WARE] | ページ 2 | カーサ ブルータス Casa BRUTUS

Kokontozai: KASHIYUKA’s Shop of Japanese Arts and Crafts / [BAMBOO WARE]

Something that adds a touch of luxury to the everyday, that carries the air of Japan about it. A thing that beckons you to use it. Shopkeeper KASHIYUKA set out across Japan to find such handiworks. Her second purchasing quest took her to Oita – the capital of Japan's bamboo trade. There she visited with master of the form, Mr. Koji Nakaiwa.

Many of the tools Mr. Nakaiwa uses, he makes himself. With a small knife he’s taken from a wooden chest, and a satisfying “swish, swish”, he works the surface of the higo. In hand, our shopkeeper remarks on their “silky smoothness”.
Many of the tools Mr. Nakaiwa uses, he makes himself. With a small knife he’s taken from a wooden chest, and a satisfying “swish, swish”, he works the surface of the dhigo. In hand, our shopkeeper remarks on their “silky smoothness”.
Many of the tools Mr. Nakaiwa uses, he makes himself. With a small knife he’s taken from a wooden chest, and a satisfying “swish, swish”, he works the surface of the higo. In hand, our shopkeeper remarks on their “silky smoothness”.
Many of the tools Mr. Nakaiwa uses, he makes himself. With a small knife he’s taken from a wooden chest, and a satisfying “swish, swish”, he works the surface of the dhigo. In hand, our shopkeeper remarks on their “silky smoothness”.
To think, simply through the process of weaving, such a light and supple material becomes a sturdy basket. Bamboo is truly amazing! Another thing I found astonishing is that all this minute and intricate patterning is achieved by muscle memory, intuition, and experience alone. There are no plans and no measurement, and yet, the resulting articles are perfectly precise. I was also taken by the fact that though he’s clearly reached the peak of achievement in his craft, he told me “I don’t want to forget where I’ve come from, and to become better, even if it’s only,” as the saying goes, “at the pace of a rice grain a day.”

When the weaving is completed, varnish is applied. If properly cared for, these bags can last 100 to 200 years, the material taking on a deep amber luster. Naturally, they complement a traditional kimono or yukata beautifully. But they’re delightful, as well, alongside a simple T-shirt! They’re pricy – as things that take time and great labor inevitably are – and can be difficult to obtain. But it’s precisely the wait that makes them feel more precious, and the splendid feeling of owning something that will endure beyond even oneself.
Heat is used to curve the bamboo used in the border sections. “I fell in love with the Ajiro-ami basket when I was in high school, and determined then to become a crafter in bamboo,” says Mr. Nakaiwa.
Heat is used to curve the bamboo used in the border sections. “I fell in love with the Ajiro-ami basket when I was in high school, and determined then to become a crafter in bamboo,” says Mr. Nakaiwa.
My current purchase is this bamboo bag, an object, truly, “to have and to hold”.

Masuajiro-ami woven bag (left). Finished in fuki-urushi lacquer, containing purse and tie-strings. Width, 24 cm; depth 10.5 cm; height, 14.5cm. ¥200,000 On right, the hime-tamatebako (treasure chest) style.


Koji Nakaiwa, born 1976, Oita prefecture. Apprenticed to second-generation master Chikusei Watanabe, he was, himself, officially recognized as a national traditional craftsman at age 34.

Yuka Kashino (KASHIYUKA)

Yuka Kashino is a member of the techno pop group Perfume. She admires Japanese ceramics and traditional crafts, and has been known to line up in the early hours for a first glimpse of solo exhibitions by masters of the form.Perfume’s latest single, “Mugen Mirai” (Infinite Future), theme of the new film “Chihayafuru Musubi”, is in stores now. www.perfume-web.jp